John 3:16


       In my last post I talked about one of Christianity’s most popular passages and the LDS interpretation of it.  Now I would like to look at arguably the most popular of all passages, John 3:16.  Christians down through the years have cherished this verse.  It has often been called the gospel in a nutshell because in it Jesus gives a wonderful summary of the gospel.

       It was spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus.  I quote it in its context.  “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

     Jesus is talking about the most important subjects:  eternal life – not being condemned – being saved.  And they all hinge on one thing:  believing.  Jesus uses that word no less than five times in this short paragraph.  It’s all about believing in Jesus – especially believing in his crucifixion.  That’s obviously what he is referring to in v. 14.

      Jesus’ reference to that Old Testament story is very instructive.  It is recorded in Numbers 21.  “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”  They lived by looking.  That’s it.  And that is what believing is.  It’s looking to Jesus and his death on the cross.  That is the key to eternal life.  It’s no wonder that John 3:16 has been the most popular of all Bible verses.

      But it’s not even referred to in the most thorough LDS manual on the New Testament, the 500 page manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles.  The closest you get is the following:  “What is available to you if you accept the Lord’s sayings and constantly strive to obey the Lord’s commandments?  (See John 3:13-15.)”  That’s it.  And what is so distressing is that, as can be seen above, John 3:13-15 doesn’t mention any need to “constantly strive to obey the Lord’s commandments”.   There is a total disconnect between the question and the reference to John 3:13-15.

      No mention of John 3:16.  A brief reference to John 3:13-15 that is very misleading.  That is how Mormonism’s official manual on the New Testament treats this precious passage of Scripture.


1 Response to “John 3:16”

  1. September 10, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Mark, this is really misrepresenting things, yet again. Just go to google and enter this into the search box: site:lds.org “John 3:16”. You will get over 600 results (some may refer of course to the other John 3:16).

    These passages from John 3 are well known and understood within the LDS community. As is the story of Moses raising the serpent. Both are fully in-line with the rest of LDS doctrine. This passage speaks of believing, which is obviously necessary. We understand and believe in this need for belief. However there are also dozens of verses where the Saviors discusses our need to obey the commandments. Do you want the references again? We also believe those verses, yet you do not appear to do so. So this leaves us right where we started. You don’t think we believe the Bible and we think you only understand the first step and not the whole picture.

    Here’s a little story about the power of belief in Christ from the Book of Mormon. Alma 36:16-20 (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/alma/36/#16):

    And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
    And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
    Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
    And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
    And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

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